Trust in Science

Trust in Science is a flagship project of the Harvard Data Science Initiative (HDSI), conducted in collaboration with the Harvard Kennedy School's Program on Science, Technology & Society (STS). At a time of seemingly widespread loss of confidence in science and expertise, the Project seeks to illuminate the varied factors that currently impede trusting relations between the producers and users of scientific information. It leverages data science, science and technology studies, and related disciplines to analyze the breakdowns in public trust, and to ask what steps could be taken to promote better mutual understanding.

The Project supports faculty-led research efforts, workshops, conferences, symposia, and external engagement to amplify the impact of funded work.

Recent programming

In May 2020, the HDSI hosted a faculty workshop on the topic of trust and mistrust in science. A summary of the session is available here.

In June 2020, the HDSI fast-tracked funding for an initial set of projects that employ data-driven approaches to advance our understanding of trust and mistrust in science in the context of the novel coronavirus pandemic. Summaries of the projects and the (now closed) RFP are available here.

Sept 18, 2020 - Special Event - Jill Lepore in conversation with Fran Berman. Jill Lepore, David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of American History at Harvard, and staff writer at The New Yorker, joins Fran Berman, Edward P. Hamilton Distinguished Professor in Computer Science at RPI, for a wide-ranging discusson from Lepore's recently published book IF THEN: How the Simulmatics Corporation Invented the Future, to the context of data science, to the state of data science in education, and beyond.

December 7, 2020 - Special Event - Trust in Science, Trust in Democracy. Together with the Science, Technology, and Society Program of the Harvard Kennedy School, the HDSI convened a roundtable of four leading experts from academia and public life for a conversation spanning the many crises that have marked 2020, from pandemic response to the census to police reform. Panelists Marc Lipsitch (Harvard University), Ken Prewitt (Columbia University), Ruha Benjamin (Princeton University), and Chris Mooney (The Washington Post) shared their thoughts on the myriad ways that trust in science is interwoven with trust in democracy.

Funding opportunities

Trust in Science issues periodic funding calls for researchers across Harvard to collaborate with each other and build on external connections. Projects from the first funding call, on trust and science related to the COVID-19 pandemic, are well underway, and a second request for proposals is expected to be released in early 2021. Details about funding calls will be posted here and advertised to the Harvard community through the HDSI mailing list and social media channels.


Professor Sheila Jasanoff
Pforzheimer Professor of Science and Technology Studies, Harvard Kennedy School
Faculty Lead

More: Sheila Jasanoff announced as Trust in Science Faculty Lead

Dr. Sam Weiss Evans
Program Coordinator and Research Fellow in STS and Research Fellow in HDSI

Advisory Boards

Our advisory boards are central to the responsible intellectual and ethical management of this project. You can find the composition of our boards on our Advisory Committees page.

External Advisory Board 

The External Advisory Board supports the HDSI Trust in Science Project by assessing current programmatic activity, advising on future activity, and identifying connections with other relevant research programs.  In addition to advising on the scholarly direction of the Program, Members will help assess the Project’s effectiveness in promoting diverse and independent inquiry, facilitating productive interdisciplinary collaboration, and achieving meaningful societal impact. 

Internal Advisory Board

The Internal Advisory Board supports the HDSI Trust in Science Project by assessing current programmatic activity, advising on future activity, and building connections with other relevant research programs within Harvard.  Members are expected to help identify and review promising proposals for collaboration within Harvard, including opportunities for meaningful interdisciplinary and cross-university dialogue. Members will also comment on the Project’s effectiveness in maintaining a diverse and independent portfolio of research, dissemination, and outreach activities.

Supporting the Trust in Science project

The HDSI's Trust in Science project is funded in large part by philanthropic support from donors who share our desire to advance understandings of trust and mistrust in science by leveraging data science and other relevant disciplines, toward the goal of creating actionable insights. Reflecting the breadth and potential impact of this work, we welcome additional support from both industry and individuals who  seek to catalyze this progress. To contribute to the Trust in Science project, please click here.

Current supporters of the Trust in Science project include Bayer and Microsoft.